Altruism and Self-Love
Altruism is tantamount to selflessness. While altruism sounds like the exact opposite of the term self-love, they are really quite similar, in concept. Without first learning to master self-love, you will never be able to be truly altruistic.
The simple definition of altruism is “the behavior that shows a desire to help other people, a lack of selfishness,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Self-love is the ability to love yourself enough that you can reach out to help others without allowing your own sense of self-esteem to be diminished.
Self-love lets you take care of yourself without making you feel bad about yourself that you are neglecting others by doing it. You need to be first in line in your life. Don’t go without enough sleep just to help someone else out, while they’re snug in their beds. Don’t eat on the run or skip your planned time at the gym because you think it’s more important to finish a project for a friend.
Learn to say “no” to people; don’t take on more than you can handle just because you think someone will get mad at you or not like you anymore. In taking care of yourself first, you will learn how to bolster your self-worth by doing things that make you happy and satisfied. It will help you feel more in control of your life. Although this sounds contrary, in fact self love and altruism complement one another. By caring for yourself, you are able to be more altruistic.
Being altruistic, or acting unselfishly in regard to others, doesn’t always come naturally. Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, for example, is unable to even show empathy for others, let alone perform unselfish acts of kindness for them. Altruism, in many cases, is a learned ability, generally only achieved when you are firm in your own beliefs, despite any negative feedback that may come your way.
Altruism can be associated with the well-known phrase, “Pay it forward.” You know you did the right thing in a certain situation and it makes you feel better about yourself. To that end, you don’t feel the need for any sort of payback in order to feel good about yourself. You simply tell that person to help someone else the way you just helped them, going forward in their lives. This is a great example of how self-love and altruism work in tandem to help both you and the people you help. And the people they will help, as a result of your kindness.
Small Acts of Kindness
Another well-known saying, often seen on bumper stickers, is, “No act of kindness, however small, goes unnoticed.” Think of your own life and realize how true that statement is. Someone lets you go ahead of them in line at the grocery store because you only have one item. That small act, which will only delay that person for an extra moment or two, just saved you a bunch of time, and allows you to be on time to pick your kid up from soccer practice, get home in time to get dinner on the table and then get another kid off to choir practice – all on time. Without that one person’s consideration, your whole day could have been a parenting disaster.
Take the time you need to achieve self-love so that when the opportunity to be altruistic presents itself, you’re there, ready to make the place a better, nicer, easier place to live because you can contribute selflessly.